Above: faith leaders at the 2015 Interfaith Thanksgiving Service including Amy Bigman, Kit Carlson, Sara Cogsil. Alice Fleming Townley, Rick Blunt, Betsy Persons Aho and Fr. Mark Inglot
Many local communities of faith are coming together on November 21 for their annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. This year’s service will feature traditions, events, and activities representative of the diverse faiths in East Lansing.
The venue rotates among places of worship each year, and next week’s the event will be held at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. Last year’s event was held at The Peoples Church. The East Lansing Interfaith Clergy Group selects the venue, and they try to move it around as much as possible to be as representative as possible.
On hand will be a community choir along with the variety of faiths expressing their thanks and fellowship. In addition, there will be a featured speaker, Rev. Andrew Pomerville, the Senior Pastor at The Peoples Church. Pomerville, who has been the Senior Pastor at Peoples for over five years, is excited for the opportunity to speak this year. “I am eagerly looking forward to leading from the pulpit and guiding our community in onesrit of thanks that transcends politics, intolerance, and fear of those who might be different,” he said.
His talk will be both similar to and different from the sermons he regularly gives at Peoples. “As we try to highlight the unique characteristics of each faith community within this service, it is important that we are faithful to our particular traditions and help others get to know their neighbors through the variety of mediums and avenues through which we worship and gather,” he said.
One of the key features of the event is that it is Interfaith rather than ecumenical, says Father Mark Inglot, the host of this year’s service. This means, he explains, that while ecumenical events feature different denominations of one religion, an interfaith service brings together many completely different religions. “We have held the service at the Islamic Center, Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and other places of worship,” Inglot said.
Inglot is looking forward to hearing Pomerville speak. “The chosen speakers each year have been challenging and enlightening and are from a variety of religious traditions,” Inglot said. “I am honored to host service this year at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and looking forward to hearing Andrew's message,” he added, calling Pomerville “one of the area’s finest preachers.”
This event is also one of the only ones held annually. While there are other similar events, the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service is the only regularly scheduled event, making it all the more important. “Thanksgiving is a unique holiday in our country that has the potential to go beyond religious festivals and traditions that might otherwise divide us,” Pomerville said.
Along with the event’s location, the selected charity changes annually. This year’s offering will benefit “Connect 4for Kids: Feeding Lansing’s Children” a charity dedicated to feeding local children, especially when school is out for the summer and food is not always readily available.
In the past, over 200 people have attended the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, with similar numbers expected this year. The event begins at 7pm, and everyone and anyone is welcome.
St. Thomas Aquinas Church is located at 955 Alton St., in East Lansing,